“Rocko’s Modern Life,” the animated children’s television show that aired on Nickelodeon from 1993 to 1996, will add a prominent transgender storyline to its upcoming 45-minute Netflix revival, according to EW.
“Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling,” picks up up 20 years after the series finale and finds Rocko, the exasperated wallaby, and his friends Heffer (an exuberant steer) and Philbert (an anxious turtle) returning to an Earth that’s very different than when they left. Suddenly, their hometown is awash with coffee shops, food trucks, cell phones, and many other modern conveniences. One other change: Their friend Ralph, the child of Mr. and Mrs. Bighead, has now become Rachel.
Since floating around in space for 20 years, Rocko is mourning the loss of his favorite show, “The Fatheads,” which Rachel created. He discovers Mr. and Mrs. Bighead have lost touch with their daughter since she left on a journey of self-discovery. The wallaby then sets off on a mission to save “The Fatheads” by finding Rachel, whom he discovers working at a “Fatheads”-themed ice cream truck.
“When I started writing [‘Static Cling’], I really started latching onto the idea of change and how society has changed and what’s gone on in the last 20 years and the development of our characters and how they would react to change,” series creator Joe Murray told EW. “It felt natural, because it was not only about change, about somebody finding who they are and making that courageous choice to go through that change.”
“’Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’ tells a beautiful — and hilarious — story about accepting change,” said GLAAD director of transgender representation Nick Adams, who consulted on the Netflix special. “The younger characters accept Rachel immediately, recognizing she’s still their friend. And while Rachel’s father is slow to accept change within his own family, even he realizes that loving your child should be unconditional. This story of inclusion and acceptance is so needed in our current climate.”
The series is no stranger to LGBTQ+ representation, having snuck a subversive coming out allegory into a 1996 episode titled “Closet Clown.” “We were still playing by the rules, so to speak, and still trying to interject those situations [into the cartoon],” Murray said.
“Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” airs on Netflix on August 9.